Pepys on Radio 4 in the UK
When The Diary of Samuel Pepys began its dramatised serialisation on Woman’s Hour a couple of years ago I wasn’t mad on it. Kris Marshall, as Pepys, seemed too rough and callow, Katherine Jakeways as Elizabeth, his wife, too old and Cockney (she was 14 when they married, and from a French family). But they have grown on me, thanks to Hattie Naylor’s ingenious adaptation. It sent me back to the original, not a particularly easy continuous read. So, alongside, I’m reading Claire Tomalin’s brilliant 2002 Pepys biography, which brings the whole world of 17th-century England into rich cultural, religious and social context. Naylor, for reasons of brevity, has only smaller spaces to hang her daily pictures and she does it with sympathy and skill.
Last week the daily episodes reached 1666, which as everyone knows is a hot date in British history so it was a bright idea to give The Great Fire of London its own, hour-long episode on Saturday. Pepys is in his thirties now, established, with a good job, his own house, savings, able to afford to entertain guests to fine dinner and keep two servants. Elizabeth still has to put up with his flirtations, Mrs Knipp being the latest, and her suspicions. When their servant Jane first wakes Pepys with news of the fire he takes a look and goes back to bed. Then, a couple of hours later, he realises it’s going to get serious. Bit by bit, it does. Naylor spotlights people the actual narrative just mentions, the boatmen, the bookseller, poor Jane risking sacking for going to see if her mother is safe. (She was, but Elizabeth still sacked her.) It made a gripping listen, even if the King (Ewan Bailey) sounded a bit wooden and his brother solid sycamore.
- Think there will be more? Stay tuned.On Thu, May 16, 2013 at 10:03 AM, IAN GREENWOOD <iangreenwood2@...> wrote:...but unfortunately not available as a podcast, apparently.